WALES has unveiled plans to speed up the lifting of its Coronavirus lockdown in a move that will heap more pressure on Boris Johnson to bring forward the rollback of restrictions in England.
First Minister Mark Drakeford announced people will be able to meet up in each other’s gardens from tomorrow, with hairdressers reopening on Monday.
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The PM is under pressure to speed up the lifting of lockdown in EnglandCredit: Crown Copyright
Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford is accelerating plans to reopen Welsh societyCredit: Getty Images – Getty
And the “stay at home” requirement will also be replaced with “stay local” guidelines from tomorrow as part of plans to reopen society and get the economy moving again.
Mr Drakeford declared: “That will be a big step forward here in Wales, people haven’t been able to do that now for weeks and weeks.
“For many families that will allow grandparents to see grandchildren again and it’s a sign that cautiously, carefully and step by step, we’re now on the journey of reopening Welsh society.”
“We will make step-by-step changes each week to gradually restore freedoms.”
The plan means Welsh families and friends will be able to meet up in gardens more than a fortnight before it’s allowed in England.
England’s stay at home message and tough rules preventing social mixing won’t be relaxed until March 29.
Meanwhile, hairdressers in England aren’t going to be allowed to reopen until at least mid-April .
The announcement comes just days after Nicola Sturgeon also revealed Scotland is bringing forward its unlocking due to the dramatic fall in cases.
Wales is set to lift its coronavirus lockdown from tomorrow (Stock image)Credit: AFP or licensors
It will fuel more calls from Tory backbenchers for Boris Johnson to look again at his roadmap and consider reopening England sooner.
The changes in Wales will allow people from rural areas to travel greater distances than those who live in urban towns and cities.
From tomorrow, four people from two households will also be able to meet outdoors to socialise – including in gardens.
Outdoor sports facilities, such as basketball courts, tennis courts and golf courses, can also reopen.
Hairdressers and barbers can also reopen for appointments from Monday – the same day that all primary school pupils and those in exam years can return to the classroom.
Non-essential shops will begin to reopen gradually from March 22, while restrictions will be lifted on what can be sold in shops which are currently open.
All shops, including all close contact services, will be able to open from April 12, the same date as in England.
Key dates as Wales leaves lockdown
These are the key dates as Wales lifts restrictions:
- Saturday, March 13 – ‘Stay at Home’ message scrapped, four people can meet outside to socialise and outdoor sports facilities can reopen. Indoor care home visits allowed for designated visitor
- Monday, March 15 – Hairdressers and barbers will re-open for appointments. Pupils in primary school and exam years will return
- Monday, March 22 – Non-essential shops will start to reopen, as well as garden centres
- Friday, April 2 – The Welsh government will review the effects of easing lockdown
- Monday, April 12 – All pupils will return to school and all shops, include close contact services, can reopen
Wales has been in a strict lockdown since December 20, but has seen its case rates plunge in recent weeks.
The infection rate across Wales now stands at 43 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days up to March 6.
This is well below the 50 cases figure cited by the Welsh government as key to unlocking the country.
Wales also this week passed the milestone of one million coronavirus vaccinations – meaning just under a third of all adults have received the jab.
Health minister Vaughan Gething previously said people living in more rural areas would be allowed to travel greater distances than those in urban towns and cities if the country moved to a “stay local” message.
Public Health Wales said yesterday there were a further 195 Covid cases, taking the total number to 205,788.
The agency reported 12 further deaths, taking the total in the country since the start of the pandemic to 5,424.